Luisa Nicu, Magna Exteriors: “In our industry you have to break barriers to lead the change and this leads to continuous improvement and innovation”
“When we talk about leadership competences, either a woman or a man, you have to adapt to the changes. Being a good leader in automotive requires a strong technical background in any field (engineering, logistics, economics, sale) in order to be able to coordinate teams, the specific context favouring or not this role,” Luisa Nicu, Manufacturing Engineering & CI Manager, Magna Exteriors told Automotive Today.
“I believe that a stronger empowerment for women would be to have the support of all the key roles in the organization changing the perception that you can or cannot succeed in a role if you are a woman. In our industry you have to break barriers to lead the change and this leads to continuous improvement and innovation.”
Women in automotive: What’s your perspective on keeping the women’s leadership role open to systemic changes in the automotive industry?
Automotive industry has always been a men’s world from technical skills perspective but from my point of view it is all about the person’s predisposition towards a certain field, the ease of understanding the concepts and what you like to do.
When we talk about leadership competences, either a woman or a man, you have to adapt to the changes. Being a good leader in automotive requires a strong technical background in any filed (engineering, logistics, economics, sale) in order to be able to coordinate teams, the specific context favouring or not this role.
In terms of leadership abilities, they have as much importance as the technical side, especially in the actual VUCA context, the focus been lately on having and leading resilient teams.
Technical and leadership abilities must be completed with financial insight in order to be successful and deliver results.
What are the challenges you are trying to address in empowering and promoting women in your company and overall, at the level of entire industry?
To start a carrier in automotive industry can be for most desire, charm, but to work in it, to stay involved with the same passion for many years is a great challenge which comes together with huge satisfaction. For us is like a „ drug” creating addiction as the dynamic and constant changes challenge us to come with new and innovative ideas, solutions and out of the box thinking for daily business.
The competences required for having success are quick answer, dynamism, analytical thinking, overview, and technical training. Having different levels of experience gives on one side the required know how but also the vision and enthusiasm of young people to bring courage and energy to the team making it complete.
I am proud to have a mature team, responsible and united and together with me a woman in PM position.
The fact that we have a relationship based on respect and mutual trust made our projects to be launched successfully.
Which are the main aspects needing improvements in order to ensure a stronger empowerment of women’s role within the automotive industry?
“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong; it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.”
As described in the quote, I believe that a stronger empowerment for women would be to have the support of all the key roles in the organization changing the perception that you can or cannot succeed in a role if you are a woman.
Any story can be a successful one when you have a role model, inspiring you. Either you are in the beginning of your carrier or not take a look around and discover the persons from which you want to learn and from which you need support and take as example in your professional and personal development to fulfil your dreams.
In order to increase our visibility among youngsters and to attract young females in our field in Magna Exteriors Craiova we have an internship programs of 3, 6 months up to 1 year with the technical University, where students can apply starting with 2nd year in different internal projects. Continuing the collaboration is determined based on their performance and desire to be involved and to grow.
As a result, we have students already hired, within having women in engineering department, quality, and supply chain.
As we witness convergence between the automotive sector and information and communications technologies (ICTs), how has working in the auto industry changed in the past decade?
If we think of the future in Automotive industry we definitely talk about electric mobility, driverless cars, automated factories, and ride sharing.
One of the key drivers to stay competitive is to develop solutions that are connected and smart. At the operation level, the pandemic has accelerated development and focus on this direction. We must share information rapidly, share knowledge and try to adapt to customer rapidly changing their needs by thinking globally, creating, and using systems to allow us to access immediately information all over the world.
Can you share with us the most remarkable accomplishments related to your workplace and professional evolution?
I started to work at Magna as a quality engineer afterwards being promoted to Quality manager. During this time, I was asked what I like to do and what I see as a challenge for me. Engineering always seemed interesting, always changing and with a special dynamic in which you must always be alert and ready for change.
Through my activity I proved that I can, and time came when I was promoted to Engineering manager, a strategic position where I had the full support of GM and HR. I had the chance to lead a mix team formed of process engineers, CI responsible, robot programmers, maintenance, and new projects. Even if there are many directions all are connected and need a solid technical background. Our activity takes place during all phases of the process from development to serial life and aftermarket.
I was lucky to work in a company where I didn’t feel as a challenge to be manager base on my gender but on my abilities.
Here, working with extraordinary people , who have vision, a lot of courage and dedication I learned how to be a true leader, how to be committed, creative, have intuition , take responsibility for the decisions I take, how to inspire people and to build trust, and also that a true leader is not complete without a little humour.
Can you describe the challenges and opportunities for innovation in the automotive sphere?
Starting from Maslow’s Pyramid, everyone has to satisfy his needs and curiosity so as we advance in time curiosity and desire to have more combined with passion leads to knowing more and trying new things. In our industry you have to break barriers to lead the change and this leads to continuous improvement and innovation.
Challenges in automotive industry are every step of the way. As the world is in continues change, we must adapt, be flexible in order to keep up, to be competitive. New or improved technologies appear from year to year, so we must learn and think innovatively to find new solutions but also to share knowledge in order to advance. CI process is mandatory in our line of work and innovation is the key to be on top.